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Journal Article


Ajdacic-Gross V, Hepp U, Seifritz E, Bopp M. J. Affect. Disord. 2019; 252: 141-151.


Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






BACKGROUND: Since its beginnings, suicide research has made great progress in terms of empirical findings. However, in contrast to empirical knowledge, the theoretical understanding of suicides has shown only minimal progress. Missing interdisciplinary bridges and the lack of a unifying paradigm have been major obstacles. This paper examines the starting points for a rethink.

METHODS: In the first step, we identified major challenges in suicide research, which have been obstructing a better understanding. In the second step, we determined a new concept of suicide that is highly compatible with epidemiological results and meets the requirements of interdisciplinary usability. In the third step, the implications of this paradigm were explored by relating it to two process typologies, the one characterizing the temporal dynamics of suicide processes, and the other representing risk mechanisms / factors occurring at different stages of suicide processes.

RESULTS: Since suicides are rare events and often appear to be "rash acts", they can be conceived of as mental accidents or, more precisely, as failures to withstand temporary suicide impulses. This paradigm is suitable for synchronously implementing different personal, psychopathological, societal and situational perspectives. It applies to a high proportion of suicides and works well when being exposed to different typologies of suicide processes.

CONCLUSIONS: The mental accident paradigm provides an interdisciplinary starting point in suicidology that offers new perspectives in research, prediction and prevention.

Copyright © 2019. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Language: en


Accident; Paradigm; Prediction; Prevention; Suicide; Theory


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